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Sociology (the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Sociologist)

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of everyday life with regards to human behavior and interactions. It attempts to understand human society, and through that understanding make it better. It unifies practically all subjects from history and psychology to economics and government. This makes it rather complicated, but also highly fascinating. You'll find a range of sociology articles in this section of Direct Knowledge delving into the many facets of the field.

History of Sociology

It makes sense that people are curious about the societies they live in. They want to know the strengths of their people (and, sometimes, the weaknesses of others). Thus, it doesn't come as a surprise that people have been studying foundations of the subject since as far back as 6th century BC. It started with studying parts of the whole, such as social analysis and social roles. At the start, most of the information was gathered through surveys from samples of individuals. Then, it slowly grew into what we know as sociology today, including sociology articles such as these in addition to a plethora of other resources.

In 1780, the word and formal concept of sociology was coined by a French essayist.  It soon became an academic discipline in the 1800s, even gaining its own published journal. More and more new theories of sociology emerged from this time forward. Over time, there were increasing numbers of people conducting research based on scientific principles and knowledge.

However, such empiricism was subsequently met with push-back by those who felt empirical results also need critical analysis. This push-back comes from those who consider there to be significant differences between the social world and the natural world due to the unique complexity of aspects of human society. If you want more, the sociology articles in this category can give you an ever more in-depth look at the history of this subject.


Thus, a mix of social and empirical sciences are used in sociology, with both qualitative and quantitative methods applied. Some sociologists lean heavily towards the social qualitative side in their research techniques. Others lean towards the empirical quantitative side. But the two camps still share many aspects, especially regarding their systematic approach between theory and data.

Often times, the best approach depends on what the goal of the research is. Surveys and quantifiable evidence from experiments (quantitative methods) are more suitable for statistical generalizations about people and society. More in-depth contextual understanding of individuals' social stances and actions, on the other hand, would benefit more from deeper observation and personal interaction with subjects (qualitative methods). You can learn more about the various methods and how they came to be by reading the sociology articles here.

Sociology Articles on Theoretical Foundations

Sociology has experienced many traditional theoretical trains of thought over time. These include Classical Theory, Functionalism, Conflict Theory, Symbolic Interactionism, Utilitarianism, 20th-century Social Theory, Pax Wisconsana, Structuralism, and Post-Structuralism. But they all typically agree on the central problems they are trying to sort out.

The three central theoretical problems are generally classified as the dichotomies of 1) subjectivity and objectivity, 2) determinism and voluntarism, and 3) statics and dynamics. To put these in simpler terms, they deal with knowledge, action, and time, respectively. Within each of these broader dichotomies is the goal of bridging the divide between micro and macro-scale social phenomena. This means analyzing the differences between individuals and the differences within society as a whole.

Subjects and Focuses

Every aspect of society and the people that constitute it has its own special place in the world of sociology. Most of the branches look at the broader scope of society, studying macro characteristics and interactions. Some of the most common areas of study that you'll encounter in the sociology articles here are the societal aspects of culture, art, conflict, education, politics, and demographics. In these subjects, sociologists look at the overarching relationships between people within larger complex entities such as economies, governments, the environment, and countries.

Other topics within sociology have a micro focus, such as social psychology. This area examines individual thoughts and emotions, relating them to how they affect behavior. The behavior of the individual in turn affects that of small groups, which build up whole societies. It ultimately integrates the field into the wider macro focus once more. The sociology articles in this section of Direct Knowledge can help you learn the details of even more topics within the field.

Sociology Articles Covering Modern Themes

Of course, sociology changes with society. Over time, the interactions between people change due to changes in government, technology, religions, and, especially now, globalization. Some of the most popular areas of study these days are social and economic inequality, social networks, our interactions with and perceptions regarding the environment, and use of technology. Evolution of society and the study of it have led to interesting fields that are relatively new. Technology such as social media is an obvious example, but others, such as gender studies, are also growing due to societal trends in exploring and understanding the differences between individuals. You can find further coverage of currently popular topics and recent events in the sociology articles in this section of Direct Knowledge.

Articles Exploring Sociology as a Profession

Sociologists perform various functions in the world, all of varying degrees of impact and income. They might conduct research to further knowledge in the field. Or, they might teach as professors to pass that knowledge on to others. They can also be directly involved in government and business. Informing politicians, legislators, and business-people about aspects of society helps them make the best decisions possible. Thus, sociologists can influence the economy and government itself, working to strengthen economic stature and guide policies in directions that help avoid conflict or give people greater opportunities in life. Whatever the field of work, sociologists will likely need advanced education such as a PhD. Through the articles in this section, you can find more information about some of the most notable sociologists and careers in sociology. Maybe you even want to join the ranks of sociologists, in which case you have some reading to do!

Sociology Books

Sociology can give us insights into important parts of society such as political policies, welfare, social order, and culture. Understanding these areas helps us interact more peacefully with one another, as well as more efficiently. The books in this category of Direct Knowledge can help you learn about this field for your own pleasure, or prepare you for the standards expected in the academic and professional world of sociology.

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People and Society

Sociology is the study of society using scientific methods and principles. It tries to understand the variation between individuals and between societies, then looks at the causes behind these differences. These aspects of society are important for keeping peaceful interactions between people, especially in a world with growing globalization. You'll find the sociology books here useful if you're looking to become involved in a field where understanding interactions is vital. Positions such as counselors, representatives, public relations specialists, and researchers will all use sociology as a key tool.

New to the Scene

In terms of scientific study, sociology is somewhat new. However,  the basic ideas have been around for hundreds of years. Philosophers like Confucius and others from the time of ancient Greece wrote about sociology themes. They saw the importance of social roles and some even made surveys to learn about and better understand large groups of people. The field of sociology began to really grow as a discipline in the late 1800's. Classes started at schools and journals began printing, spreading the ideas of the field to more people. Much of the development of the field happened as a response to modern changes in society such as industrialization and urbanization.

Main Topics of Sociology Books

Some common sociology themes you'll be able to read about in the books here are classical theory, functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, and utilitarianism. The 20th century brought more study of theories such as structuralism and post-structuralism. Today, the main areas to be familiar with stem from these classic theories.

These mainly include what are called the three dichotomies: objectivity and subjectivity; synchrony and diachrony; and structure and agency. The first of the three deals with knowledge, the second with time, and the last with action. Within each of these areas, a big problem is how to deal with differences between very small aspects of society and the very large ones. For instance, the dynamic between members of a household is very distinct from that between all the people in a country.

Introductory Books

If you're just getting into the field, introductory sociology books such as Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World are good places to start. Using this book as an example, it focuses on important basics that relate to current events and prevalent theories. Thus, students will learn information that they can immediately put to use and relate to their own lives.

Another useful resource might be Introduction to Sociology 2e. While still covering the basics, it does so in a way that doesn't just regurgitate information. Meaningful discussion questions and other features keep readers engaged so they reach a deeper understanding. The book follows the typical topics of semester-long intro courses, including core concepts, fundamental theories, and emerging ideas in the field. Professors as well as students will find the information useful for both learning and teaching in an up-to-date fashion.

When reading books and studying these topics, you also need to be aware of the methods used in sociology. It's not just philosophical discussion and theories anymore. If you think there might be a relationship between certain things, you need to test it. This means having quantitative designs that use evidence and statistical analysis. Through this method, you can rely on results. Qualitative methods that use observation, interaction with subjects, and critical analysis are also useful for gaining more insight. So be sure to read up on the science of the field to make sure your approach yields good results.

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